Showing posts with label The Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Blog. Show all posts

Thursday, July 24, 2014

17 Apart Turns 3!

Today marks the 3 year anniversary since we published our first post here on 17 Apart! It's amazing how much can happen over the course of a year. Some of the bigger highlights and milestones that come to mind include Tim quitting his day job to pursue full time blogging, which has opened up a lot more room for projects and exploring ways to make money at blogging. We welcomed a new niece to the family in March, celebrated Tim's parent's 50th wedding anniversary and our own 1st wedding anniversary — and Brandon started his journey with his first year at college while Stephanie ended that same chapter, graduating from JMU.

We've had more time to focus on larger home updates and even knocked a few items off our bucket list, like grabbing a few drinks on a rooftop bar in NYC (that last link also includes a gem of a photo-bomb I made during a KISS photo-shoot). Basil turned 3 and kept us on our toes all year, debuting his first official Halloween costume and swapping out his beloved front room couch for a proper dog bed in our updated office space.

Most of all, we've been so thankful to stay connected with so many of you, and meet many new faces along the way too. We love getting your emails with photos of your garden or just to stop in and let us know that you're also in a relationship with a significant age gap — we love it all.

In keeping with blogiversary tradition, last week we asked for your help in asking us anything you wanted — then we put together today's Q&A post with all the answers to your questions as a way to virtually celebrate another milestone! So without further ado, here are each of the burning questions we received this year, along with our best stab at answers!

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Q. Anonymous Blog Commenter: Mary, as someone who is dating someone with kids (his are little though, under 8 years old). How is it to be married to someone with kids? Was it hard for you to get used to dating someone with kids at first?

A. Mary — Tough questions right out the gate — love it! This question could warrant its own series, or entire blog, but I'll take a good stab at an abbreviated answer here today.

The short of it is, I think every circumstance is different, but for me, I've always just felt so lucky to have Tim and his children welcome me into their family. I may be outside the norm, but it wasn't hard for me to get used to dating someone with kids — I was most worried what they'd think of me!

To give a little history from my perspective, when Tim and I first started dating (coming up on 10 years ago!), his children were 9 and 12 and we waited probably over a year before making introductions — and even at that stage, it wasn't anything formal. If you hadn't gathered, we're just fine with the idea of taking things real slow, ha — 7 years dating (3 1/2 of those being long distance), almost a 2 year engagement, etc. Because we eased into things over such a long period of time, I'm guessing it put a lot less pressure on everyone and allowed us to really form meaningful relationships when it finally came time to take that next step. I think his kids even said something to the effect of "finally" when he confided in them that we were getting engaged.

Wedding photos by Tori Watson, Marvelous Things Photography

I can't tell you how much it meant that as 2 young adults, both Stephanie and Brandon wanted to play important roles in our wedding, and that Stephanie wanted to move in with us during this timeframe after graduating from college. I really see them as their own people, who have actually taught me a lot about life and added so much more depth to my own.

A. Tim — I could not have come up with a better answer. I always said, they already have a mom so just try to be a good friend. This question did get us to pull out some of the older photos we have (before everything became digital and long before we started blogging), and thought you might enjoy seeing a few of these gems back from a beach trip with Brandon and Stephanie early in our relationship:

Q. Monica asked us 3 questions this year! We see how it is, 3 for 3 — next year you'll need to think of 4 :)

1. Do you pronounce Basil's breed with a V or W?

A. Mary — We pronounce it with a W, like Whyme-uh ryhne-errr (imagine a sourthern drawl butchering that last errr). My typical elevator speech when someone asks what type of dog he is usually consists of "He's a Weimaraner, also called weims for short or nicknamed the gray ghost." Most times people will say things like "oh yeah, Weimaraner, I couldn't remember the name," otherwise we'll get a blank stare. Interestingly, most people that mistake him, ask if he's a great dane. I'd love to know how Basil would pronounce it!

A. Tim — After answering this question, we googled the proper pronunciation of Weimaraner, and had fun listening to all the different versions. Mary listened to this one about 6 times while I googled the Hungarian version. Thanks for the source of entertainment, Monica!

2. Are there any foods which either of you cannot stand to eat/cook?
A. Tim — As crazy as it sounds, I love cooking anything, but do have a couple weird food things. I'm not a fan of milk, tomatoes or eggplants (though again, I love to cook with all of the above). Luckily Mary loves to eat almost anything, including leftovers, so not much goes to waste around here. OK, and I'll admit I'm not a big sweets person either, especially chocolate. Hands down I'd rather eat a liver mousse pâté (seriously) at the beginning of a meal than have chocolate mousse for dessert. Mary's the exact opposite.

A. Mary — I will pretty much eat anything, but rarely cook since Tim's the expert in our household (lucky me!). While I love all sorts of seafood and fish, I have a funny thing about eating them as leftovers — weird I know. I will eat most anything else as leftovers, gladly, especially when Tim made it. Like Tim mentioned above, I have a big sweet tooth, so we're opposites in that aspect! Luckily, Tim's son Brandon also has a sweet tooth, so I use that as an excuse to get an ice cream fix whenever he comes to visit.

3. If you could choose to travel to one destination (based on food offered there) where would it be?
A. Tim — Hands down, street food in Thailand. I love markets and anywhere I have traveled in the world (especially in Europe), nothing beats hitting up that large public market in the city center. So Thailand it would be — the markets and street food are definitely my dining destination. Italy and Spain are two other places I have yet to visit but love the culture of their food!

A. Mary — I'd love to make a trip to the Mediterranean, especially Greece. I'm a sucker for good olive oil, fresh veggies, cheese and wine, so I imagine it would be the perfect match. Tim and I talked about the idea of Greece for a honeymoon before realizing a week near Hatteras was what we really needed at that time. I like to think we'll make the trip, perhaps for a long weekend on a whim or a bigger trip to celebrate a milestone anniversary down the line.

Q. Willow asks: What time do you wake up\what are your techniques to be able to jam so much into your weekends? Sometimes you seem to have painted a room, hosted parties and still had time for a yard sale or checking out an eatery!

A. Mary — I'm glad to hear it appears that way from the outside looking in, ha! Truth be told, we juggle a lot, but it's all stuff we enjoy and usually means getting outside the house for a bit (which can be a welcome break from working at home all week). On waking up, Tim's the morning person and the planner. I'm gradually getting better at getting up early on the weekends (I'd say we're up between 7-8am) but definitely take indulgence in that morning jolt of coffee before feeling that "go tackle the day" mentality. There's also usually an afternoon break involved before getting that second weekend wind in the evenings (proof below, shhhh).

A. Tim — Pretty much what Mary said. I'm also happy to hear you read about our weekends! The weekend series is one we enjoy because it documents some of our day-to-day activities, but oftentimes wonder if it's interesting to anyone but ourselves.

We do pack a lot in but I might start something say Wednesday afternoon and then finish it up Sunday. So in effect there are times where we post about something we accomplished over the weekend (which it was) but it may have been started weeks ago. Also, when we drive up to the farm to work on the airstream it is about 40 minutes away so we take the back roads and hit a farm stand or maybe get side tracked at a roadside yard sale. We try to make a plan but remain flexible for little adventures along the way. I'd also say we play off of each-other well too. Sometimes Mary has a plan for something she'd like to do or get done (or the other way around) which helps motivate us to keep going.

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That rounds up each of the questions we received this year! We've linked up this post under our FAQ's page and look forward to keeping this Q&A style post a regular Blogiversary tradition. We hope you enjoyed getting a further look into our lives and if you had a question you didn't see answered in today's post, feel free to submit in the comments section below or shoot us an email anytime.

Here's to 3 years of fun adventures — with many more to come.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Blogiversary Q&A: Your Burning Questions

It's that time again — our 3 year blogiversary (blog launch anniversary) is coming up next Thursday and just as we've done over the past 2 years, we'll be stepping down off the soap box to open up the forum to all of your burning questions.

To give a little background, over the past 3 years, we've celebrated our "blogging anniversary" by posting a roundup of your questions (that we gather from this pre-anniversary post) and try to answer as best we can. We can tend to get wrapped up in the day-to-day, so it's fun for us to hear what you're wondering about, be it a project we forgot to give an update on, something as simple as which ice cream flavor is Mary's favorite (she's got an opinion!), or if we're willing to share some of our favorite outtakes from our engagement shoot...

 Both images by Tori Watson, Marvelous Things Photography

I guess we just spilled the beans on that last one, ha!

For context, ideas and a little fun trip down memory lane, you can see past blogiversary Q&A's here, from last year's 2 year blogiversary and our very first blog Q&A from 2012, here. A lot has changed and evolved since launching the blog almost 3 years ago, and it's always so interesting to be able to look back at where we were then, realizing just how far we've come in a short time. Life works in mysterious ways, and then keeps on pushing. One thing has remained the same — we're so thankful to have built up this crazy way to document the things that are important to us and are even more appreciative that you care to come check in on us!

To that end, in blogiversary tradition, we'd love to know...

What would you like to know?

Maybe you are curious about what we've got planned for Basil's 4th birthday, what it's like now that Stephanie's living with us, or have questions about blogging or photography — whatever burning questions you've got, now's the chance to ask away. This is also our chance to ask what you like about the blog and what you'd like to see more of or less of? And no, every post cannot be about Basil...

Feel free to send us questions by commenting on this post, leaving us a note on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — and if you'd prefer, feel free to shoot us an email with your questions and we'll post them anonymously for you. We'll gather each of your questions over the next several days, put on our best "answering caps" and post the full Q&A roundup here on the blog next Thursday!

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Our 1st Blogiversary Q&A | Our 2nd Blogiversary Q&A

P.S. The photos from today's post were a couple of hidden gems from our engagement shoot last spring and we thought they'd be fun to pull out from the archive and share. Each of the images were captured by Tori Watson, our talented wedding photographer — see more shots from the full engagement shoot day right here!

P.P.S. Monica, we can't wait to hear what burning question you have for us this year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Goals & Resolutions

Happy New Year, guys, gals, and 4 legged friends! We're really enjoying having the day off and just spending some time together at home, cleaning up from the holidays and reflecting on the past year. Mary redeemed herself from last year (she fell asleep at 9:40pm while I watched the ball drop) and made it much longer than I did. We ended up staying home again; Stephanie and Brandon have recently gotten us into watching marathon sessions of The Walking Dead, so we dove deep into Season 2 while Stephanie and a few of her friends hung out and got gussied up at the house before heading out on the town to celebrate in the best of their 21 year old style.

In keeping with what's become blog tradition, today we're taking a look back at the goals we set for this past year, seeing how we managed with them and are ready to set a few new ones for 2014. So, for the sake of holding ourselves accountable and just to see how much has changed (or stayed the same) since last year, here's a brief checkin on what we said our goals and resolutions for 2013 were and how we faired (full post here):

2013 Goal: Urban Gardening & Food AwarenessOK, gotta keep it real — this past year we admit we let wedding planning take over and our little urban garden got neglected as we basically just maintained what we could. We set goals like installing a rain barrel, making a mason bee house and growing normal sized sweet potatoes — none of which we made happen and all of which we'll take another stab at this year! We did pick up new skills like mastering the art of natural propagation, growing brussels sprouts, horseradish root, turmeric, and showed steady progress in our ongoing projects like grapevines and avocado trees. We even made a garden storage shelf from a pallet in the spring, so not all was a failure!

2013 Goal: House Progress. House progress was a little slower going than we originally imagined, but we may have bitten off more than we could chew with all the other big events going on in 2013. We did bring in some new key pieces of furniture and decor, like our dining room sideboard and rug, kitchen locker console and hanging framed artwork, but we didn't make as much progress on things like painting the upstairs or transforming our front room into a functioning office.

2013 Goal: Staying Sane (And a Little Silly). Aced it! While we may have slacked off in some areas, we kept it real throughout all the festivities without sweating the small stuff — we celebrated our wedding, Brandon graduating high-school and going off to college, Stephanie turning 21, my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and my own big change in career path. It was quite the year for big life moments, and we're happy to say we have nothing but the best of memories from each.

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography

2013 Goal: Blogging. Through all of the hustle and bustle, we managed to keep a pretty good record of what went down and feel lucky to have created such an incredible archive of the things going on in our lives to look back on. We've successfully experimented with blog ads and sponsored posts, we finally got with the program and set up 17Apart Pinterest and Instagram accounts; heck, I even quit my corporate day job to do this thing called "blogging" full time!

So, that's how we faired with the goals we set for this past year. It's a little surreal to look back at where we were this time last year and see just how many things have changed — and how other areas and goals have remained the same.

Now, how about 2014? We've got high hopes (sing it with me, we've got hiiiiiigh hopes) for the year ahead and figure putting it all out there is a great way to stay somewhat accountable and a fun way to look back to see where we were at this point in our lives. Here's what we're thinking and where our heads are right now...

2014 Goal: Home
In keeping with last year's goals, we'd love to continue to work on making this house more our own. Transforming our front parlor into a functioning office is at the top of our list (we just need to get the right pieces of furniture to make it happen), along with continuing to paint up the stairs and in a few bedrooms. We have 3 major home repairs coming up early this year including some hefty roof repairs, re-pointing of the brick along the side of our home and repairing the interior walls where some water damage has leaked through — all of these will take a big chunk of change and while they aren't the most exciting or visual of updates, they are necessary repairs to ensuring a solid home. If we're able to switch out the lighting and fans in a couple of the upstairs rooms and hallway, we'll call it icing on the cake!

2014 Goal: Garden
As usual, we'd love to continue to grow and nourish the gardening projects we've started and tackle some new ones as well. A rain barrel and mason bee house are both going back on this year's goal list, along with a beehive to sit on top of our garage. We actually already have the top bar hive I built with Josiah at Lockhart Family Farm in the fall, but the key will be actually installing it on the roof and learning the practices of minimal bee-keeping. The idea is do a very small part to nurture the bee community and they will help pollinate our garden and surrounding areas — if we get honey, that's great, but not the goal. In other gardening goals, we'd like to successfully root the beginnings of what might become a rosemary bush in our front yard from one of the cuttings we propagated this past year. We'd also like to try growing a contained fruit tree or bush either indoors or out at some point this year to add to our more permanent plant collection.

2014 Goal: Sustainability & Personal Goals
You probably already know that sustainability, local communities and food awareness are important to both of us. We're far from perfect, but are always striving to learn and take new steps into better choices when and where we can. Last year we took part in CSA programs, feel lucky to have made friends with local farmers and I've been really proud to be able to volunteer some time in the kitchen at our local food bank, Feedmore. We'd both like to continue on our path to learning more and implementing new practices of sustainability into our daily lives. As far as getting out and about, we've enjoyed watching the excitement of the Monument Avenue 10k from the sidelines for the past 2 years and this year we're talking about walking the course. We haven't registered yet, but feel like if we write it down here that we're holding ourselves accountable to take part. Another area of our lives we've discussed between the two of us is our interest in finding and contributing to a charity or organization that's near and dear to our own interests and beliefs. We're still on the search, but have talked about ideas like our local food bank, SPCA, Weim Rescues and more. This is an area we're still new to and open to ideas you might have.

2014 Goal: Blogging
In keeping with the main goal and driver of this blog, we'd like to stay dedicated to making time to post and document those things that we love looking back on — it's always amazing to us when looking back at just how many things we've done that we would have forgotten about otherwise. Aside from documentation, we experimented with monetizing our blogs over the past year and it went pretty well. So well in fact, I was able to make it a full time venture and realistically pursue doing something I love for a living. Now that we have a full year of data to look at and analyze, we'd like to explore ways to streamline and improve on how we did last year without adding any bells and whistles that feel annoying, spammy or unauthentic to us in any way. To that point, over the past year we were able to work with a lot of fun companies to bring giveaways to you guys. They seemed to be pretty popular, so we'd like to try to offer even more this year. We're also toying with the idea of a weekly roundup of all the things we're digging or into at the moment that we'd love to share on the blog but might not fit into a single post for one reason or another.

As for Basil, he let us know he's resolved to be a little calmer when we come across our feline friends while walking through the neighborhood:

So that's how we stacked up in 2013 and many of the things we're thinking about right now for the year ahead. Thanks for following along as we try to hold ourselves accountable year after year by posting our goals and resolutions out there for everyone to see — especially when we bite off more than we can chew and fall a little short!

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography

We also thought it would be fun to toss in a "pie in the sky" bucket list to keep track of over the years. These items are basically the ideas and things we've love to do someday when we have all the time/money/inhibitions in the world to tackle them all.

Bucket List:
  • Budapest with the Family. We'd like to go on another family trip back to Budapest, Hungary with both my parents and Stephanie and Brandon. Mary and I share Hungarian heritage and made the trip with my parents early in our relationship when my kids were much younger. Now that they are both adults, we'd love to introduce them to all the sights and memories we've made, and have my dad show them where he grew up. It's beyond incredible to be able to visit with him since he's still fluent in the language and has such raw memories he's able to recall everywhere we go.
  • Machu Picchu. Ever since Mary took a Pre-Columbian art history course at VCU, she's convinced me we need to see this hidden city among the clouds in Peru. We'd love to take one of the shorter trails to get there where you actually camp along the way.
  • The Ghia. Mary's first car was a 1973 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia — you read that right. She still has it, though it's in rough shape and not running. We often talk about how fun it would be to repair over time and have as a garaged car to pull out on nice days.
We'd love to know what goals, projects and resolutions you've got on your mind for 2014.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 17 Apart in 2013

With each year end, we find ourselves wondering how the time flew by and love the chance to look back through each of the adventures, accomplishments and life changes that took place — realizing we really have come a long way over the past 12 months. In keeping with our end of year tradition, we're taking a stroll down memory lane to share a roundup of the most popular posts we published over the past year.

We've gathered up the top 13 posts from 2013 in terms of top viewed projects, gardening tricks and other tips you all liked the most — here's the list in the event you missed a few or just want to stroll down memory lane with us:

1. How to Make Hanging Mason Jar Vases. Getting through our wedding this past June was one of our biggest milestones this year. We had a blast incorporating handmade and diy elements throughout our big day, including these hanging mason jar flower vases we used to line the ceremony aisle. We also made gold dipped mason jar vases for the wedding that turned out to be so versatile beyond the wedding, we've kept them and used them around the house as bud vases and floating candle jars around the holidays.

2. How to Make a Pendant Light. I was pleasantly surprised to see my tutorial for making a simple pendant light was a big hit with you guys this year. Having an electrical background, I wasn't sure it would be something as interesting as it was to us, but we're excited to have made a custom light for the house using an antique shade and are looking forward to tackling more lighting projects over the next year.

3. Secret NYC Jewelry Supply Warehouse. The secret's out! Mary shared one of her favorite jewelry supply warehouses we frequent when in NYC and we've just loved hearing the stories from the visits many of you have made since we published the post. This place is definitely a fun destination to put on the bucket list for any creative folks out there.

4. How to Propagate & Regrow Rosemary. One of our goals for the past year was to try our hands at propagating plants from cuttings. It was a gardening area we'd been intimidated by previously but once we got the hang out it, we couldn't stop! You all seemed to agree, and in fact you will notice that many of our propagation undertakings this year made it into this year's roundup!

5. How to Make a DIY Birdcage Veil. Mary made her own veil for our wedding and loved sharing how she went about it on the blog. It's been such a popular post and we hope it's helped other brides save a little money and make a special heirloom for their own big days.

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography

6. How to Propagate & Regrow Mint. Just as with the rosemary, we experimented with and learned how to regrow mint from cuttings. The mint came from the stragglers on a plant still hanging on this time last year. We were able to regenerate it over the winter and get a strong spring and summer crop.

7. Spent Beer Grain Dog Treats. Learning how to make dog treats with the spent beer grains from my buddy, Clay's, latest brew day was a big hit all around — we loved being able to recycled the spent grains, Basil loved getting to sample new treats and you all loved getting a new dog treat recipe for the pups in your lives!

8. How to Propagate & Regrow Basil. Yep, we regrew basil this year too! 

We even learned how to take cuttings from the plant in key areas to make the plant grow full and bushy instead of tall and leggy — these skills are some we look forward to returning to this spring as the weather get milder:

9. Make Giant Art Prints from Your Photos. Once Mary learned how to make giant photocopies from our personal photographs at the copy store, we created an instant collection of statement artwork for different areas around the house. The best part is, they are affordable enough to switch out when you're ready for something new.

10. How to Make Whipped Cream from Scratch. Sometimes it's the simple things that make the biggest impact. With a little heavy whipping cream, a touch of sugar and a mixer, it's so easy to make homemade whipped cream — and it's hard to find anything that tastes much better.

11. DIY Door Snake Draft Stopper. As the weather got cooler, Mary whipped together a custom door snake with ticking upholstery fabric and rice to help keep the drafts at bay from our doors. We enjoyed chatting in the comments section and on Facebook about what you called "door snakes" when growing up.

12. How to Plant & Grow Horseradish Root. Learning to grow horseradish root was one of our favorite gardening projects this past year. It's an easy plant to tend to and grows tall, impressive leaves. We're looking forward to seeing how this plants grows and changes this season since we've harvested and re-planted it over the fall.

13. Recipe: Mozzarella Caprese Quiche. This fun twist on the traditional mozzarella caprese makes for an inviting breakfast and just looks so pretty too. We loved having the opportunity to partner up with Origins Farm this past year to bring a series of recipe posts like this quiche to the blog and it's something we'll be doing again in 2014!

Whew, what a year! And this was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. For even more projects, recipes and gardening ventures we tackled over the past year, have a look through our growing archive of DIY content. Thanks for helping us look back over the past 12 months at all the fun things we've gotten into. It means so much to us that you follow along and share in our ongoing blogging adventures.

Want to see more? In case you missed them or just want to look back through with us, here's a look at the top posts from 2012:

...and 2011:

This walk down memory lane has been just the right motivation to get us excited for new things to come throughout the year ahead! We can't wait to take on new home projects, diy crafts and get our hands dirty in the garden as the weather warms up this spring. Here's wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year's Eve wherever you might be celebrating!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

17 Apart Finally on Pinterest!

We finally set up a Pinterest page specifically for 17 Apart, check it out here:

Neither of us are technically new to Pinterest — in fact, Tim and I have both been separately addicted for quite some time now. We'll both keep pinning away on our personal accounts (Mary's & Tim's), but are excited to finally have a collaborative account specifically for the blog.

We plan to use it for inspiration, projects we'd love to try & some we've already tackled, a collection of nuggets for the bucket list and much, much more.

Are you on Pinterest? We'd love to hear how you use Pinterest, along with any board categories you can't live without. Let us know in the comments section so we can keep up with all your pinning!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Google Reader Alternatives: Were Lovin' Bloglovin

You might have heard by now that Google Reader will be deactivated this July. This was pretty much heartbreaking news for Tim and I since we've been longtime Google Reader power users. It's been such a great tool for us to keep track of our huge and growing list of favorite blogs.

If you too are a Google Reader junkie and looking for a replacement come July, we hope you'll add us to your new reader (pretty please). We're planning to make the switch to Bloglovin, and recently imported our entire Google Reader feeds with the click of a button. Bloglovin is another blog reader platform that allows you to easily stay updated with all your favorite blogs by letting you know when they've published a new post.

You can follow us on Bloglovin by clicking this link. It's been a fun switch so far in that Bloglovin also recommends similar blogs to the ones you're already following — you know, in case you want to just tack on more blogs to your growing addiction, haha.

Learn more about Bloglovin's handy Google Reader importer to see if it's the right route for you too. Here's a screen of the import taking place when we made the switch:

I wasn't kidding when I said we follow a lot of blogs!

Not a "reader" type of follower? No worries, if you like you can opt to receive an email every time we publish a new post by entering in your email address in our right sidebar — don't worry, we can't see the emails or use them in any capacity (not that we'd spam even if we could!).

And while we're talking about keeping in touch, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter too!

Have you been a longtime fan of Google Reader? What alternatives are you planning to use when it's closed down? We're always interested in finding great alternatives.

Friday, January 11, 2013

How To: Create An Image Gallery Project Page in Blogger

If you check out our DIY blog page frequently, you might have noticed we gave the entire thing a little makeover of its own!

When we began writing the blog we created the DIY page as a way to keep track of all the projects we'd tackled in one easy place to find and reference. Over time as we kept adding new projects, it quickly turned into an unwieldy link list that was getting impossible to navigate, like so:

Kinda boring, right?

We thought so too, so we organized everything with image thumbnails under categories like Home & Crafts, Garden, Holidays, Food & Recipes, Pets and more:

Each image and description underneath is linked to the corresponding project/recipe post and conveniently opens in a new window when clicked.

So now when you want to find things like how to clean and wall mount a deer skull or how to make sweet potato chips, it should be a lot easier to scan and visually pinpoint from the list of image thumbnails vs. the older never-ending link list. Much Better!

As with most things, this DIY page page will grow and evolve with us. Down the road we'd like to take it up a notch even more — with a little more uniformity and consistency. For now, we're just thrilled we powered through converting each of the linked tutorials into this image gallery. It will be much easier to just slip new projects in one at a time as we tackle them from here on out.

For those of you on the little-to-no coding experience list like us that also want an image gallery for your blog or website, here's the tutorial we used and tweaked to fit our page from Laura's Crafty Life. Neither of us are stellar with coding, so everything you see here on the blog, we've figured out on our own through Googling or just playing around with different settings here and there.

If you are using Blogger as a platform (like we do), this is a great tutorial to walk you through the process of creating blog tabs and getting the image gallery. If you already have blog pages or are using a different blogging platform, you might just want to skip ahead to the code section that you can grab and use in the html section of your own site .

To make the code work for our blog, we liked the look of 3 images in a row instead of 4, so we just stripped out one of the 4 lines of code in the html string the tutorial provides — you can really tweak it however it works best for you. For example, you could add another string of the same code to get 4 images to display in a row, etc.

What DIY projects have you been tackling lately, online or otherwise?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Goals and Resolutions

Happy New Year! Did you party hard last night ringing in the new year? I have to admit we stayed at home, watched about one third of the way through what we thought was a less than great movie (Moonlight Serenade) before turning it off and watching Family Guy — then I fell asleep at 9:40 on the couch, missing the ball drop. I'm supposed to be the young one in this relationship — what has happened to me?? Tell me you have a more exciting story than we did!

Today we thought it would be fun to look back at last year's goals and resolutions, see how we managed with them and set a few new ones for the year ahead.

For the sake of holding ourselves accountable and to see how much has changed since last year, let's check in on what we said were our top goals and resolutions for 2012 at the start of last year (full post here):

2012 Goal #1: Urban Gardening. One of our biggest goals this year will be in learning best practices for urban gardening, making use of vertical and small spaces, edible landscaping, and putting those learnings into practice!

End of year update: We made solid progress! From getting a giant compost bin to installing vertical planters along our back landing, we're proud of the accomplishments we made with gardening in our new space. We've got a long way to go and much to improve upon, but both of us are happy with the progress we made over the past year.

2012 Goal #2: Working with Basil. Continue to be patient with Basil's separation anxiety and actively work towards finding solutions for the long term instead of always resorting to falling back on doggie day care or bringing him along in the car. We have high hopes for this new home and have been taking small steps in order to be able to leave Basil alone for short periods of time without causing him anxiety.

End of year update: Goal Accomplished! This is probably the one accomplishment we made over the last year that we are most proud and relieved over. With consistent efforts, we're happy to report we have gotten over the hump with the worst of Basil's separation anxiety. On the rare occasions we need to leave for extended periods of time or we can't bring Basil along with us, we are now able to leave him alone in the house for up to 3-4 hours at a time without him having any signs of anxiety. Check out our favorite video of what happened when we first began being able to leave Basil alone in the house:

2012 Goal #3: Blogging. While it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all of our regular responsibilities, we find it important to ourselves to continue to take the time to put down the things we know we'll enjoy reminiscing about down the pike.

End of year update: Goal Accomplished! From new recipes to home updates and spending time with our family, we documented a lot. While of course we didn't get every last thing, we're proud of what we were able to document and share here on the blog — and we're even more grateful you were willing to read it!

2012 Goal #4: Staying Grounded. With a new house to work on, another house to get in shape, a wedding to plan, and everything else going on, we'd like to remind ourselves to take it one day at a time and appreciate the small things each day has to offer. 

End of year update: We made solid progress! While a little slower going on some things than we'd hoped for (getting our other house in shape and staying on top of our wedding timeline) we've definitely continued to take things one step at a time and didn't kill ourselves if something didn't get done when other regular responsibilities took priority.

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Let's talk 2013, shall we? In keeping with our tradition to set a few goals for ourselves at the beginning of each new year, here's are the things we'd like to work on in 2013:

1. Urban Gardening & Food Awareness. As we've tried to do in years past, it's important to us to learn about the food we consume, and how to grow it ourselves. We'd like to take our own little urban gardening projects a step further this year (a bee house and rain barrel would be awesome) and are happy to take it one step at a time. While never perfect when it comes to eating sustainably, we'd like to keep making educated and healthy choices more often than not.

2. Sweet Potatoes. Speaking of gardening, we had less than desirable luck growing sweet potatoes for the first time. You might remember our not so generous crop of sweet potato fingers we harvested back in October. We'd love to get some normal sized sweet potatoes this year just to prove to ourselves it can be done!

3. House Progress. We've got the house we currently live in and have been taking updating it slowly — painting the upstairs would be a great accomplishment for us along with acquiring a few key furniture and accessory pieces we need for the downstairs. We'd also like to transform our front parlor into a functioning office for the both of us. We are also lucky enough to still have the house we used to live in, though it's taken us much longer than we originally thought to completely clear it out and get it into shape for renting — this is something we'd consider a major accomplishment if we are able to make it happen in 2013.

4. Staying Sane (and a little silly). We've got a lot of big events coming up this year — our wedding, Brandon's high school graduation, Tim's parents' 50th wedding anniversary and more. While it's a lot to celebrate, we want to do just that — celebrate, and not sweat the small stuff along the way.

5A. Blogging. As we mentioned last year, we've loved being able to look back over time and see all the things we've done together and documented — when looking back even just over the past year, there were so many things we smiled at and realized we'd both forgotten. 

While it's increasingly easy to get overwhelmed with all of our regular responsibilities, we again find it important to ourselves to continue to take the time to write about those things we know we'll want to look back on moving forward.

5B. Blog Ads & Sponsors. You may have noticed we just launched a few ad positions here on the blog (if you didn't, you can see them in our right sidebar and in-between the start and end of each post. This is something we've been excited to try out and thought the start of the new year would be a good time to test them out. That being said, we are going to keep a close eye on them and their content to see if they a good fit for us. In addition to automated ads, we've created a page with details on how to sponsor an ad space for your own small business, blog or creative venture if it's something you or someone you know might be interested in — find the details here.

Here's wishing each of you a happy healthy 2013! Thanks for following along as we try to hold ourselves accountable year after year by posting our goals and resolutions out there for everyone to see! We'd love to know what goals you're planning to tackle in 2013!